How to Stay Safe When Apartment Hunting

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Manhattan.info

The apartment hunting process will have you crossing paths with many individuals. You will also submit personal information to various parties. And, money will be exchanged at a point. 

 

Protecting yourself during your search for an apartment may not have been something on your mind until this point. Nonetheless, it’s important you take precautions because you never know the true intent of an individual or organization.

 

In this article, you’ll learn several ways to protect yourself during an apartment hunt.

 

Cross Compare Listings and Details

 

As any good apartment hunter would do:

 

Gather information from several sources when you compare apartment listings. In doing so, you may reveal listings that aren’t as legitimate as they seem! You may also notice some listings stating they do not use other platforms, which is a tip off that a listing isn’t legitimate.

 

Look for the little details like:

 

  • Listing agent/realtor
  • Spelling errors and mistakes
  • Cropped images or blurred-out logos

 

Online community boards are notorious for some of these activities. It’s like the old adage of “if it’s too good to be true then it probably is” when looking at listings. Doing a quick cross comparison helps you avoid these common scams and issues.

 

Here’s a bonus: You may notice that some platforms add/remove listings faster than another. This helps save time from chasing an apartment that may have already been rented.

Use Video and Live Tours (When Available)

A video showing a thorough tour of an apartment is second only to an open house. 

 

Now you don’t have to bump into others or spend tons of time running around. A video tour also eliminates the pressure one feels when talking to a landlord or a management company.

 

You can find video tours of a location on many platforms and listings these days. You could even ask the property owner or manager to take one for you.

 

Another great way to see a place before you seriously commit is video tours. Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, and other platforms have robust live-streaming capabilities. You could even use the simple video platform built into many phones now, too.

 

A video tour comes with all the safety benefits as a video tour. Except, now you can ask and engage with the person in real-time. This lets you get down to the details.

Trust Your Gut

There are a lot of real estate scams out there. Some of them are really well done! There is also the chance of bad actors who intend to cause harm.

 

When it comes to staying safe -- trust your gut:

 

  • Go to showings with a few people
  • Be mindful of your surroundings
  • Don’t handle any money without documents

 

It’s like how it’s always been, “if it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t.”

 

Unfortunately, this also puts you at a disadvantage sometimes. There may be genuine listings out there from property owners. The problem is that their listings got drowned in the noise or it doesn’t seem to line up with the market.

 

This is where you need to put a bit of everything together with your search. Do your research for these eye-catching properties but curb your expectations just in case. You don’t want to get so enthralled with a property that you don’t catch the long con!

 

Get to Know the Area

 

If you want to get the bigger picture of an apartment then you need to know the area. This usually involves taking a trip around the block and neighborhood. It can also involve looking up recent blog posts, videos, and news stories from the area.

 

When it’s the big city? Start big!

 

Suppose you’re looking at NYC apartments. First, get to know the borough that interests you and dig through its history. Then, have a look at the Manhattan neighborhoods and narrow down the search. Check out places to eat, things to do, and points of interest. All these little things play into the apartment hunt beyond just the price.

 

Everyone has their reasons but this localized research will help along with the hunt. It will also help narrow down your selection so you’re less likely to put yourself at risk.

 

Look, Don’t Touch

 

Some apartments you view may come furnished. You may also get to check out a place during the last few days a tenant is there (who’s okay with you doing a viewing).

 

This is important: you can look but you can’t touch.

 

Don’t go prodding around at people’s stuff when checking out apartments. This goes for the little things like using the toilets to poking your finger into the water of their saltwater aquarium. You just don’t do it unless you want to cause a problem.

 

Nothing puts you in danger faster than disrespecting someone’s space. Even if they’re moving out or it’s there for show, be mindful of your interaction!

 

Ask Good Questions

 

Social distancing is making it tough to get in and check out places. So, you need to use what you’ve got when checking out listings and supporting elements. By asking questions you will be able to find the correct Jupiter rental homes.

 

Mainly -- you need to start asking good questions.

 

Remember, the property owner or manager is there to answer you. You’re the (potential) paying customer so it’s their job to sell you on the place. Don’t feel weirded out by asking tough questions because there’s a lot of money at play!

 

Ask:

  • What is the TOTAL rent after everything?
  • Will my rent go up? If so, when and why?
  • What was your experience with prior tenants?
  • Do you have plans for upgrades?
  • What is the pet policy? Guest policy?

These begin scratching the surface. Within the person’s responses is the real answer. 

 

Pay attention to moments of hesitation or if they try to dodge questions. Some individuals may talk in a roundabout way, providing non-answers. If the person who’s showing the place can’t answer questions directly then spend those dollars elsewhere.

 

Apartment hunting is stressful at times but it shouldn’t be a danger. 

 

Keep your wits about you when looking at listings online and in-person. And, take these apartment hunting safety tips to mind throughout the process. With a bit of knowledge and gut instinct, you’ll find the place you’re looking for without incident. In fact, you may find one even better since you’re not getting trapped into bad deals!

 

So, what tips would you include with this list? Express your thoughts and then be sure to check out the other helpful apartment guides here on the site!

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